Truett McConnell University announced the addition of Competitive Gaming, beginning the fall of 2020, as its’ second Life Sport within the TMU athletic department on Thursday. Competitive gaming, also referred to as Esports, has grown rapidly over the past few years due¬†to the increased availability of media streaming platforms.

TMU will seek membership within the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). NACE is the only association of varsity Esports programs at colleges and universities across the U.S. Over 94% of all varsity Esports programs in the U.S. are members of NACE with 130 member schools and over 3,000 student-athletes. As of December 2017, nearly $9 million in scholarships were given out from NACE institutions to their students in their varsity Esport programs each year. NACE has partnered with NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) and BeRecruited to make it easier for varsity programs to connect with potential student-athletes. Member schools compete in a wide number of different game titles. The following represents some of the most popular game titles played at NACE institutions: League of Legends, Overwatch, Smite, Paladins, Hearthstone, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros, FIFA, NBA2k and Madden. TMU will choose exactly which titles the Bears will participate in on a later date, based on the interest of the students-athletes and the direction of our coach.

TMU plans to recruit a team of 15-20 students for the 2020-21 academic year. The team will have a designated area where they will practice and train for their competitions that will be housed on the TMU campus, and the student-athletes will be eligible to receive athletic scholarship dollars.

Students who are interested in learning more about the competitive gaming program should contact TMU Athletic Director Jenni Shepard at jshepard@truett.edu or 706-865-2134 ext 5221. The search is underway for a coach to lead the program and the position will be posted soon. Individuals interested in applying for the competitive gaming coach position should also contact J. Shepard.

In July of 2018, the GHSA (Georgia High School Association) announced that schools will be allowed to form Esports teams. The first competitive season launched in October 2018 with varsity teams competing in popular multiplayer games, like Overwatch and League of Legends. The addition of Esports at the high school level will assist us with recruiting, as will being the first NAIA school in the state of GA to add Esports.

“As Athletic Director at TMU, it is my goal to continue to grow our department by attracting student-athletes to TMU, to help them grow in their faith, and to send them out into the world ready to fulfill the great commission,” Shepard said. “I believe this addition will attract student-athletes who may not have ever heard about Truett McConnell University. The addition of competitive gaming will add to both our Athletic Department and University and I cannot wait to see this new life sport come to fruition.

The team will have their own designated area, which will allow them to conduct practices and training sessions as needed and the student-athletes will be welcomed with open arms into our athletic department. I can’t wait to welcome these new students to our beautiful campus next fall.”

The 42 NAIA institutions that sponsor Esports and are listed below:

Bellevue University, Nebraska
Benedictine University Mesa, Arizona
Brescia University, Kentucky
Campbellsville University, Kentucky
Central Christian College of Kansas, Kansas
Central Methodist University, Missouri
Cincinnati Christian University, Ohio
Columbia College, Missouri
Culver-Stockton College, Missouri
Dakota Wesleyan University, South Dakota
Dickinson State University, North Dakota
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Arizona
Grand View University, Iowa
Indiana Institute of Technology, Indiana
Jarvis Christian College, Texas
Lourdes University, Ohio
McPherson College, Kansas
Menlo College, California
Midland University, Nebraska
Missouri Baptist University, Missouri
Missouri Valley College, Missouri
Morningside College, Iowa
Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Ohio
Northwest Christian University, Oregon
Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon
Park University, Missouri
Robert Morris University, Illinois
Shawnee State University, Ohio
Siena Heights University, Michigan
Southwestern College, Kansas
St. Ambrose University, Iowa
St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Missouri
St. Thomas University, Florida
Stephens College, Missouri
Talladega College, Alabama
University of Antelope Valley, California
University of Jamestown, North Dakota
University of Pikeville, Kentucky
University of Providence, Montana
University of Rio Grande, Ohio
University of Saint Mary, Kansas
University of the Cumberlands, Kentucky

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Joan Suggs is the Sports Information Director for TMU.
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